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"Cultivating Hope in Anxious Times" (Inaugural C-U Campus/Community Interfaith Exploration)

Event Type
Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County, University YMCA, First Mennonite Church, Sinai Temple, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center, Hillel Foundation, Muslim Student Association, Illinois Interfaith in Action, the Department of Religion, the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, and the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations
various locations (see "SCHEDULE" below)
Nov 7, 2019 - Nov 10, 2019   All Day
Michael Crosby, Pastor First Mennonite Church
Originating Calendar
School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Calendar


  • Thu, Nov 7, noon-5pm – Eboo Patel campus visit including book discussion (Acts of Faith) co-sponsored by Campus Honors Program; and meetings with Interfaith in Action / interfaith student groups, U of I Chancellor, and Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County.
  • Thu, Nov 7, 6-8pm at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center Lounge & Ballroom - 601 South Lincoln Street, Urbana – Keynote address by Eboo Patel, University of Illinois alumnus and founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core. Dr. Patel was a member of President Barack Obama's inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships and was named by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders in 2009.
  • Fri, Nov 8 - Afternoon lecture by Dr. Mark Swanson (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago), "From Missionary 'Focus' to Neighborly 'Commitment': Chicago Lutheran Stories in Christian-Muslim Relations," St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, 909 S. Wright St., Champaign, 3:30 p.m.
  • Fri, Nov 8 & Sat, Nov 9
    Beyond Tolerance: Building Mutuality and Affection through Interfaith Engagement. Embracing the fact of increasing diversity across all of U.S. society, Eboo Patel asks: “Will the United States leverage the current diversity explosion to promote the common good, or will it blow up in our faces in forms such as open prejudice, rampant discrimination, deeper disunity, further inequality, and identity conflict?” (Out of Many Faiths, 3 – 4). Panelists will explore the resources – theological, liturgical, and practice-oriented – that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam bring to the work of “empathetic citizenship,” moving past tolerance of diversity to a vision of pluralism in which each religious community strengthens and is strengthened by engagement with difference and by collaborating together to address the most significant issues of our time. Panelists will also consider how their religious tradition might draw on its own resources to engage other faith communities with mutual respect and even to promote affection for the people, practices, and convictions of faith traditions different from their own.
    • Fri, Nov 8, 5:15pm – Beyond Tolerance Part 1: dinner and presentation at the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center - 106 South Lincoln, Urbana. Panelists from Lutheran (Dr. Mark Swanson), Muslim (Dr. Marcia Hermansen), Jewish (Dr. Jennifer Grayson), and Mennonite (Dr. Safwat Marzouk) institutions.
    • Sat, Nov 9, 12:45pmBeyond Tolerance Part 2: lunch and presentation at Sinai Temple – 3104 West Windsor, Champaign. Panelists are local faith leaders engaged in interfaith relationship-building.

  • Sun, Nov 10, 3pm at Lincoln Hall Theater – 702 South Wright Street, Urbana – Ted & Company TheaterWorks premiering “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy,” a new show exploring issues of race, domestic militarism (including school/religious institution shootings, in the streets and on the border), Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. as they present within the current ethos in the U.S.


For more info:



Speaker/performer Biographies:


Francis X. Clooney

Francis X. Clooney, S.J., joined the Harvard Divinity School faculty in 2005. He is Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology. After earning his doctorate in South Asian languages and civilizations (University of Chicago, 1984), he taught at Boston College for 21 years before joining Harvard.


His primary areas of Indological scholarship are theological commentarial writings in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India. He is also a leading figure globally in the developing field of comparative theology, a discipline distinguished by attentiveness to the dynamics of theological learning deepened through the study of traditions other than one’s own. He has also written on the Jesuit missionary tradition, particularly in India, on the early Jesuit pan-Asian discourse on reincarnation, and on the dynamics of dialogue and interreligious learning in the contemporary world.


Eboo Patel

Dr. Eboo Patel is an author, speaker, educator, and interfaith leader. Eboo founded Interfaith Youth Core on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape.


For over 15 years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author of Acts of FaithSacred GroundInterfaith Leadership: A Primerand Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American PromiseHe holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.


These days, Eboo spends most of his time on the road, doing what he loves: meeting students, educators, and community leaders to talk about the complex landscape of religious diversity and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century.


Mark Swanson

Dr. Mark Swanson is Harold S. Vogelaar Professor of Christian-Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations and  Associate Director of Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.


An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mark Swanson came to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from Luther Seminary where he taught Islamic studies, Christian-Muslim relations, Arabic language and early church history. Before that he served for 14 years on the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. His research interests include the history of Christian-Muslim relations, medieval Egyptian church history, and early Arabic Christian literature.


Marcia Hermansen

Dr. Marcia Hermansen is Director of the Islamic World Studies Program and Professor in the Theology Department at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches courses in Islamic Studies and the academic study of religion. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Chicago in Arabic and Islamic Studies.


Her recently co-edited books include Religion and Violence: Christian and Muslim Theological and Pedagogical Reflections (Springer, 2017), Islam, Religions, and Pluralism in Europe (2016), Islam and Citizenship Education (2015), and Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians (2013). Her monographs include Shah Wali Allah’s Treatises on Islamic Law (2010) and The Conclusive Argument from God, a study and translation (from Arabic) of Shah Wali Allah of Delhi’s Hujjat Allah al-Baligha (Brill 1996).


Dr. Hermansen has also contributed numerous academic articles in the fields of Islamic Thought, Sufism, Islam and Muslims in South Asia, Muslims in America, and Women in Islam.


Jennifer Grayson

Dr. Jennifer Grayson serves as Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Assistant Professor of History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati  and at Xavier University in Cincinnati. She researches Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in the medieval Islamic world.


Dr. Grayson's current book project traces changes in the relationship between Jewish government officials, the Babylonian geonim, and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad between the tenth and twelfth centuries. More broadly, she is interested in the social and political history of the pre-modern Mediterranean; pre-modern and modern Jewish history; and, especially in her capacity as a joint hire with Xavier University, inter-religious dialogue.


Dr. Grayson holds a Ph.D. in History from The Johns Hopkins University (2017); an M.Phil. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Cambridge (2013), where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar; and an A.B. in History and Late Antique Cultures from Brown University (2011).


Safwat Marzouk

Dr. Safwat Marzouk is Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Dr. Marzouk grew up in the midst of interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews and Muslims influences daily life. As a Christian in Egypt, he focused on studying the Old Testament to better understand God’s vision of shalom. An ordained member of The Synod of the Nile (a counterpart to the Presbyterian Church), Safwat was a pastor in Egypt while completing a doctoral program at Princeton Theological Seminary. His studies concluded with his dissertation, “Not a Lion, but a Dragon”: The Monstrification of Egypt in the Book of Ezekiel. He was a teaching fellow at Princeton and has been an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His love of teaching, his pastoral heart and scholarly curiosity foster classroom discussions that bring compelling insights to ancient texts.


Ted & Company TheaterWorks

Led by veteran actor Ted Swartz, Ted & Company TheaterWorks uses humor and professional storytelling to talk about issues of faith and social justice through live shows, DVDs, digital videos, scripts, discussion guides, and more. This team of dynamic actors and musicians are passionate about creating art that provokes both laughter and reflection, as all good comedy does.


Ted Swartz is a playwright and actor who has been mucking around in the worlds of the sacred and profane for over 20 years. Ted fell in love with acting and theater on his way to a traditional pastorate in the Mennonite church, a denomination not usually thought of as a hotbed of theatrical opportunities.


Ted’s love of acting, comedy, and collaboration with creative partner Lee Eshleman took him to performances in 45 states in the U.S., Canada, as well as in Kenya and Japan. Ted & Lee became known for a quirky and gently askew view of life, building a loyal following. Despite the tragic loss of Lee in 2007, Ted continued to explore the intersection of comedy and faith, grief and loss deepening that exploration.


He is the creator or co-creator of over a dozen plays and continues to write and to perform across the US and abroad. In addition to acting in solo and multiple cast original shows, Ted is an accomplished speaker and teacher, melding theater and comedy with issues of creativity, theology and faith in a profound and engaging presentation.

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